June 18, 2013
The Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program Funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the State of Michigan
Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), the Department of Energy's (Department) Weatherization Assistance Program (Weatherization Program) received $5 billion to improve the energy efficiency of residences owned or occupied by low-income persons. The Department subsequently awarded a Recovery Act Weatherization Program grant of over $250 million to the State of Michigan, which included an additional Recovery Act award of nearly $7 million of Sustainable Energy Resources for Consumers funding. This grant provided roughly 10 times the $26 million in Department funds available to Michigan for weatherization in Fiscal Year 2009. The Michigan Bureau of Community Action and Economic Opportunity administers these Recovery Act grants through 31 local community action agencies and a limited purpose organization.
We reviewed three of Michigan's local agencies – City of Detroit Department of Human Services, Area Community Services Employment and Training Council (ACSET), and Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency (Southwest) – to determine if it had effectively managed the Weatherization Program. This report focused on conditions common to the local entities reviewed; however, we have issued separate reports on ACSET and Southwest, under separate covers, for conditions specific to those entities.
We identified opportunities for Michigan and the three local agencies reviewed to improve management of the Weatherization Program. For instance, we found persistent problems with the quality of weatherization work. Also, we found that eligibility for weatherization services had not always been properly verified, and the local agencies had requested reimbursement for weatherization services that had either not been completed or had never been performed.
Overall, we questioned $115,800 for reimbursement of weatherization services that had not been completed or verified as completed or were potentially ineligible. The Department concurred with our recommendations designed to improve the Weatherization Program in the areas of quality of work, financial monitoring and eligibility determination.